Two years after the death of his mentor and boss, John Coltrane, and just before signing his own contract with Impulse!, Pharoah Sanders finally got around to releasing an album as a leader apart from the Impulse! family. Enlisting a cast of characters no less than 13 in number, Sanders proved that his time with Coltrane and his Impulse! debut, Tauhid, was not a fluke. Though hated by many of the jazz musicians at the time – and more jazz critics who felt Coltrane had lost his way musically the minute he put together the final quintet – Sanders followed his own muse to the edges of Eastern music and sometimes completely outside the borderlines of what could be called jazz. That said, Izipho Zam is a wonderful recording, full of the depth of vision and heartfelt soul that has informed every recording of Sanders since.
Though it was recorded live at New York's jazz emporium, Iridium, Detroit born saxophonist Kenny Garrett makes a return home of sorts with Sketches of MD, his debut on the Motor City's own Mack Avenue Records. His quartet here, with bassist Nat Reeves, pianist/organist Benito Gonzalez, and drummer Jamire Williams, may not possess the star power of some of his studio albums, but this band is more than up for the gig. In addition, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders reprises his role from Beyond the Wall from 2006 as Garrett's foil, creating sparks aplenty.